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The Ravens led the Carolina Panthers by 17 points heading into halftime, but as Head Coach John Harbaugh said afterwards, it should have been more.
The Ravens fumbled three times in the first half and two were lost. Also, a week after going 3-for-3 in the red zone, Baltimore was 1-for-4 inside the 20 in Carolina.
Fumbles are a new issue. The Ravens entered the game tied for the third-best mark in the NFL with eight fumbles and had lost only four.
“We weren’t controlling the first half. It should have been a bigger lead if not for the turnovers,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve got things to work on.”
After a 58-yard touchdown bomb on their first drive, the Ravens marched 84 yards on their second, but stalled out inside the 10-yard line as Ray Rice was bottled up for three yards on back-to-back rushes. That resulted in a 22-yard Billy Cundiff field goal.
Baltimore travelled 66 yards on their third drive, but fumbled on a mix-up between quarterback Joe Flacco and Rice. Donte’ Stallworth was coming on what looked to be an end-around, but Flacco handed-off to Rice, who didn’t seem to be expecting it.
“That was all me,” Flacco said. “My head got scrambled a bit, which can’t happen and I went to hand it to Ray, I put it in his stomach and I’m like, ‘Why isn’t he taking it?’ And then I was like, ‘Oh yeah!’ So it was all me. I take full responsibility.”
On the next drive, Heap fumbled at the end of a 26-yard gain, but it was recovered barely out of bounds, giving the Ravens life. Rice ran well in the red zone, taking carries of 7, 6 and 1 yards for Baltimore’s lone red-zone touchdown.
On the first play of the following drive, Flacco hit Anquan Boldin with a 7-yard gain. As the wideout lunged forward for more yards, Panthers linebacker Jon Beason punched the ball out and Carolina recovered.
“We need to focus on [that] next week,” Heap said. “We had some momentum a few times and they got away from us. That is on all of us as an offense to take care of the ball and make sure we don’t put our defense in a bad position. We can get better at that.”
Baltimore’s red-zone troubles continued at the start of the second half. After David Reed returned the kickoff 84 yards, the Ravens gained three yards on a run, but back-to-back incompletions resulted in a Cundiff 33-yard field goal.
The Ravens entered the game 20th in the NFL in red-zone touchdown percentage.